Add-On Services

Nail & Skin Care Go Hand In Hand

As nail salons diversify their services, more and more are adding skin care.

Last year skin care was one of the five fastest growing services in nail salons in the United States, and it promises to be the single fastest growing service in the next two years. We asked 1,800 nail technicians what services they will be introducing in 1993 and 1994, and skin care was the number one response. The popularity of esthetics extends to product retail: 52% of nail salons retail skin care products.

As nail salons diversify their services, more and more are adding skin care: from simple manicure add-ons such as paraffin dips and hair removal, to European facials and spa treatments. Nail technicians are finding that the nail care client is a natural crossover to skin care.

It is in response to our readers tremendous interest in the field of skin care and its growth in our industry that we devote most of this issue of NAILS to skin care.

Like nail care technology the study of esthetics requires advanced education, and most states require a license to practice it. We have provided a chart of each state’s licensing requirements and have talked to several estheticians who also have nail technician licenses about the opportunities in the skin care field. These dual-licenses say that the two skills have made their professional lives more rewarding and more prosperous.

For those of you who want to get started in skin care very slowly, you don’t need a license or a specialized professional to sell skin care products. Our experts will tell you how to choose a skin care line and how to market it. Many nail salons also have demonstrated that easy-to-introduce services such as paraffin dips and waxing can be very profitable. We’ve included step-by-step instructions on how to do both services.

To help you decipher the often complex terms used in esthetics, we’ve composed a glossary of terms that frequently are used to describe skin care services and products. It’s only a start to all you’ll need to know to become a true skin care professional but it should help you understand the terminology used to describe products and machines.

If you are ready to dive right into a full-scale skin care program, read our articles on how to select skin care equipment and hire an esthetician.

Whether you’re one of the many salon owners intent on expanding into skin care this year or are just intrigued, use this guide to learn the basics. It is not intended to answer every question you have, just to pique your interest in the field.


A new breed of nail technician is emerging. Not only is she an expert nail care, but she is carving out a niche for herself in skin care, too.

Technicians who have both nail and skin care licenses can perform a variety of services, which makes them highly sought after by nail and skin care salon owners. Having two licenses is an advantage in the job market, but it does require an ability to cultivate crossover business and stay on top of two fields with continuing education. Dual licensees say they enjoy the diversity two skills allow them, as well as the increased income and decreased downtime. Several nail technician/estheticians and their supervisors spoke to NAILS about the rewards of wearing two hats.


Bianca Steinle, skin care services director for Dermatology Center and Skin Care Services in Englewood, N.J., got her start in the beauty industry in 1958. She studied esthetics in France and England, and when she came to the United States she earned a cosmetology license in New Jersey, which at the time allowed her to do manicures, pedicures, waxing, facials, and hair care. She owned a skin and nail care salon for eight years until her 20-year dream of establishing a day spa in a medical facility came true.

Accomplishing her long-time goal, however, hasn’t quenched her thirst for knowledge. “I had always been a visionary, and I anticipated that knowledge restricted to only one area of the beauty industry was on its way out,” she says.

Steinle employs 20 technicians at the spa, nine of whom are esthetics operators who have a cosmetology license and crossover to do nail services. “The operator who is talented in both nail and skin care services is extremely valuable to the business. They are my busiest employees, and they are booked every day. When their area of the salon slows down, these individuals are able to assist in other areas that are busy,” she says.

Steinle shares her talents in nail, skin, body, and hair care with her entire staff. She feels that if nail technicians have an interest in skin care and they don’t pursue it, they are only cheating themselves of knowledge and many profitable opportunities.

The spa provides ongoing training in an atmosphere that stimulates the “intellectual curiosity” of its employees. There is very little staff turnover or burnout, says Steinle. One of the center’s nail technicians recently went back to school to get a cosmetology license so she also could perform facials and body care services. “Our environment gives an exciting approach to developing a career in the beauty industry,” notes Steinle. “Our goal is to keep our employees knowledgeable and well-rounded.”

Nail technician and esthetician-in-training Naomi Romero believes that continuing her education will make her a more valuable employee, so she decided to take night classes to get her cosmetology license. “The exciting atmosphere of the spa has given me the encouragement and motivation to go back to cosmetology school,” says Romero. After Romero finishes school, she will begin an advanced training program at the spa, where she will develop her esthetics and body care techniques. She is looking forward to performing both nail and skin care services.

“I always wanted to do facials and body care,” adds Romero. “Having a full license and advanced esthetics training will allow me to do more for my clients and for the spa.”


Having a cosmetology license was only the beginning for Janice Jaynes of Icon Unlimited Salon and Day Spa in Houston, Texas. She felt it was a disadvantage to have only a single license. Even though she was licensed to perform all services, Jaynes thought she needed to go back to school for advanced courses in nail techniques and esthetics if she wanted to be truly qualified in those areas.

 “We do a disservice to clients if we can’t answer their questions,” says Jaynes. “Sometimes I feel like I’m a walking encyclopedia because of my continued education.”

Jaynes says that when you’re licensed to do both nail and skin care services, you have greater earning potential because you have less downtime. “If all estheticians are booked at the spa and a client needs an appointment, I can service that client if I have an opening,  which is a perfect way to develop my skin care following,” she says.

Kathy Driscoll is a licensed esthetician, esthetics instructor, and the owner of Icon Unlimited Salon and Day Spa. She also owns two esthetics schools in Houston. Driscoll knows the importance of continuing education. She sets the pace in her spa by scheduling regular in salon training for her employees.

She feels that multi-talented technicians are a valuable asset to any salon. “We never have to turn away a client because we don’t have enough specialists,” says Driscoll. “If a client has confidence in her nail technician and that technician is also a qualified esthetician, it’s easier for the technician to promote book skin care services.”


Sandy Iacovetta, a nail technician and esthetician at Kerr Beauté in Columbus, Ohio, worked as a part-time hairstylist for 18 years while she raised her children. When her children were grown, she went back to school to learn nails. “I just got bored,” says Iacovetta. “I wanted to be more well-rounded beauty professional who could perform both nail and skin care services.”

Iacovetta enjoys the versatility of being both a nail technician and an esthetician, and says that learning nail care services helped her develop her skin care clientele. She stresses that having a cosmetology license doesn’t necessarily mean that your skin and nail techniques are perfect. “Just having the cosmetology license doesn’t give you complete knowledge in these two areas. It’s similar to studying to be a physician. First you become a general practitioner, then you continue your education in your chosen field.” Iacovetta’s words of advice to fellow beauty professionals “Get all the knowledge you can.”


Kerr Beauté’s owner Debra Kerr received her cosmetology license at the same time she graduated from high school. From the age of 10, she knew she wanted to be in the beauty business. Kerr believes that being able to do nail services can help build a strong skin care business.

 “If your business is not large enough to support just an esthetician or just a nail technician, it’s great to be a qualified jack-of-all-trades. I knew 16 years ago that I would have to be able to do it all. Being qualified and licensed to do all nail services was the gateway for developing my skin care business,” she explains.

 “When I first started in this business, I would walk around the hair salon and promote nail services. It was much easier to convince clients to get a manicure than it was to promote a facial. Then when the clients sat at the manicuring table, I would educate them in skin care.”

Ongoing education is important to Kerr, so she offers her employees an advanced training class once a week. “I like to keep everyone motivated and energized. There’s less chance of burnout and staff turnover.” She also believes that more and more nail technicians are going back to school to further their education. She is proud to say that one of her nail technicians is taking classes to obtain her esthetics license.

Kerr only hires people who can do it all or who are willing to learn. Her employees must have either a full cosmetology license or both an esthetics and a nail license. She recently hired a licensed cosmetologist who is proficient in hair and nails, but needed some training in skin care, so she has her working as an apprentice for two to three months.


Maria Siniscalchi, who owns Gianni Hair, Skin, and Nail Care Center in Montclair, N.j., with her husband Gianni, has had her cosmetology license since 1985, but has always wanted to do more. Siniscalchi promoted her skin care services while performing nail services. “People got to see me, and, little by little, I was booked 50% for nails and 50% for skin services. The fact that I was able to perform both allowed me to develop my own following a lot faster,” explains Siniscalchi. At one point she was so overloaded that she had to stop taking on new nail clients. She became so proficient in applying acrylic nails that she later became an educator for a leading nail manufacturer and trained nail technicians.

Now, as a salon owner, Siniscalchi prefers a staff that is wiling---and qualified---to crossover into other departments to perform various services. “At my salon, staff members are always busy. If I have a nail technician who is also an esthetician, she can promote and book facials as well as retail skin and body care while she is performing nail services.” Siniscalchi believes that if the owner of a business can do it all, it will only benefit the business. “If an employee calls in sick and she has appointments that day, the owner can fill in as well as divert some of the appointments to other staff members who are also able to perform nail and skin care services.” As a result, Siniscalchi says she never loses any business due to lack of staff.


Donna Hogue, nail technician and esthetician, went to work for La Costa Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., right out of school as a manicurist. Hogue received her esthetics training at La Costa, where she learned the special esthetics, manicuring, and pedicuring procedures that have made La Costa famous. She says the entire staff is always motivated because they attend in-house training programs.

 “Enhancing my client services allowed me to give more of myself to one individual,” explains Hogue. When Hogue gives a client a facial, she also is able to integrate nail care into the service. Hogue refers to herself as a “flexible technician” because she is qualified to do both nails and skin.

La Costa Spa director Judie Nixon believes that people get bored doing the same thing every day: “People need variety, and your earning potential can increase if you can crossover your talents into another department. It not only helps maximize the efficiency of the staff, but it also can keep things running smoothly when the spa is extremely busy.” Nixon says that if she were interviewing two esthetics professionals for a position and they were equally qualified in a particular area, she would choose the one who had more than one cosmetology skill.


Noel de Caprio, owner of Noelle The Day Spa in Stamford, Conn., says being licensed to do both nails and skin care comes in handy, especially if there’s a last minute appointment or a staff member calls in sick. Says de Caprio, “If a nail technician has an esthetics background, she will be comfortable booking a client into one of our spa’s conditioning hand and foot treatments, such as our Fango Mud Pedicure.”

Kathleen O’Donnell, a nail technician/esthetician who also works at Noelle The Day Spa, says she is never bored. “The day seems to go by quickly because of the variety,” says O’Donnell. “There is always something I can do---nails, skin care, body care, etc.”

O’Donnell gets more bookings, too, which has increased her earnings. She stresses the importance of continuing education and feels that if a nail technician wants to expand her skills into esthetics, she must become as proficient as a specialist. “Being a qualified professional is the key to success,” explains O’Donnell.


Clients are tired of over-hyped and overpriced skin care, but they are willing to pay for quality products at a reasonable price.

Everybody benefits from selling retail,” says Martha Wenstein, an esthetician and former salon owner with more than 30 years’ experience. “Individual operators get a commission, clients like the convenience, and when people grow accustomed to using a good product, they return to the salon again and again,” she continues.

While a growing number of salon owners are tapping the immense potential of retailing nail products, they may feel insecure about branching into skin care, which they may not know as much about. But Wenstein says that salon owners who don’t exploit this growing area are losing sales.

 “Clients who don’t have a lot of money but who care about their skin are always looking for something new to try,” she says. “And clients who are tired of paying inflated prices for skin care products are happy to find products that are functional and affordable. Most women also like buying skin care products when they get their nails done because it saves them an extra trip to the store.”


Choosing a skin care product line can seem like a formidable task, but salon owners and technicians say it’s no harder than deciding what nail products to retail.

Kathy Haller, owner of Elegante Nails in Arlington, Texas, knew little about skin care products, so she relied on her esthetician to choose the salon’s retail line. “Liala [our esthetician] has been with us for six years and we trust her,” Haller says. “We also felt it was important that she choose the products because she’s the one who knows what our clients want.”

Harrold Laxman, owner of Harold Salon in New York, lets his estheticians make the final decision when ordering a new line of products as well. But he does a lot of preliminary research to narrow the field. “Salon owners are in a great position to interview and screen a number of companies before they get started with a particular retail line,” he says. “A small shop can’t carry too many lines because it’s confusing for clients. Salon owners need to talk with other people in the industry who are already retailing skin care products to find out what they carry and what companies they are comfortable dealing with.”

Once you’ve acquired a list of potential companies, Laxman suggest calling each one and requesting samples. “You need to talk to company reps and play with their products,” he says. “The owner of a nail salon isn’t necessarily qualified to sell skin care, so you need to find a company that not only sells and manufactures products, but that will take the time to educate you.”

To make the right choice for her clients, Joanna Nykiel, owner of The Nail Factory and Repair Shop in Palos Hills, III., and an esthetician at Syd Simons Cosmetics in Chicago, worked with various product lines for a year before settling on one. “My main goal was to find a line that I could really get behind,” she says. “The word benefit comes up a lot when you sell skin care products, and technicians need to repeat over and over again how a particular cream or lotion improves a client’s skin. It helps if you can tell her how a particular product benefits you.”

To understand the chemical makeup of each product and why it is formulated that way, Nykiel studied the manufacturer’s ingredient lists. “I had the owner put me through an intensive two-day product knowledge class,” she says. “I urge other technicians to find a company that is willing to work with them and teach them everything about the products.”

Once you purchase a skin care line, product education should be ongoing. “We have monthly meetings where everyone reviews the benefits of using our line,” says Abbie Langlois, a cosmetology technician at Perfect Ten Head to Toe in Wichita, Kan. “Companies are always coming out with new products, so we’re constantly learning something new.”


“Most manufacturers provide a suggested price for their products,” Laxman says, “so you can get a fair markup. Look for quality and affordability; don’t buy junk and mark it up. Your clients will know.”

Nancy Berry, owner of Bellus Salon in Olympia, Wash., looked for a simple skin care line that was comparable to department store products in price---but of a higher quality. “We wanted skin care products that weren’t more expensive than Clinique, for example, but that still gave us a 100% markup.”

Wenstein prices her skin care products 20% to 30% lower than department stores. “When clients find something that is good for their skin and priced lower than what they usually pay, they get excited,” she says. “I advise salon owners to choose products that are priced between what department stores charge and supermarkets or discount stores charge. That way, people who don’t have a lot of money but prefer better products will buy from you, and people who might spend more but feel your products give them a lot for their money will also continue purchasing from you.”

For instance, Wenstein says, if a cleansing milk retails at a drugstore for $6 and a similar product sells in department stores for $22, then your salon should carry a high-quality cleansing milk for about $15. She says, “To sell it for that amount, you should get something for around $7.50. Don’t mark it up more than 100% because you might make more on each unit, but you won’t sell as many. Clients today are very aware of quality and prices. They know when they’re getting a good deal and when they’re being taken advantage of.”


Once you’ve found the right skin care products for your salon, the next step is to design a retail area that grabs client’s attention. “With an investment of about $500, you can create an exciting retail department near the reception area that includes an attractive display and a makeup station,” Wenstein says. “As soon as a client walks through the door, she should know that you carry skin care. Posters, signs, and product displays should be noticeable right away. Knowledgeable receptionists should be able to introduce clients to the products and answer basic questions, such as: Are the products made of natural ingredients? Are they hypo-allergenic? Samples should also be available so clients can sit at the makeup station and experiment with them.”

Berry entices clients to try products by staging her work area like a studio. “The main thing is to install proper lighting,” she says. “Our shop has natural lighting and three-way makeup mirrors. I like to demonstrate products at the makeup station so other clients can see what’s going on. Most clients like that, and for the few who prefer privacy, I turn the chair around to accommodate them.”

Berry says clients like testers to familiarize themselves with products, but she cautions salon owners to make sure they are able to keep the area in good sanitary condition. If you’re doing makeup applications, keep different testing clothes available for clients so they can see how the cosmetics look with different clothing colors. Berry suggests displaying photos of your work or before and after pictures.


Part of putting together a dynamite retail department is learning how to create visually exciting displays. Besides spotlessly clean shelves, Laxman recommends rotating stock so it doesn’t become a wall fixture, bringing in new product lines, and using colourful packaging to keep a retail area looking fresh and new. “Package two items together as a special,” he says, “or give away something free with each facial.”

Nykiel agrees that it’s up to the salon owner to bring attention to the products. “Packages just sitting on a shelf aren’t really seen,” she says. “Sure, clients see shapes, shadows, and sizes, but unless you are constantly rearranging those different shapes into interesting patterns, they won’t be noticed.”

Nykiel tries to create eye-catching displays by looking at other stores and incorporating into her own salon what grabs her attention. “I also try to make certain claims in my displays that demand further explanation,” she says.

“For instance, we retail an eyeliner sealer. I put it on a mirrored cube with the eyeliner brush and display it in the retail area. It looks really pretty and interesting and everyone tries to figure out what it is. Present your displays in such a way that clients feel compelled to ask, What is this? What does this do?”


Salon owners can’t expect products to sell themselves. “You need to incorporate some simple selling and promotional techniques, Wenstein says. She doesn’t think technicians need to be pushy to get a client to buy. Selling techniques include soft-sell methods, like offering clients a product demonstration so they can experience how a product feels and smells. “The best way to motivate a receptionist and other technicians to sell products is to have them experience the products themselves,” Wenstein says. “Estheticians should give free facials to everybody in the shop.”

Other items, like cleansers toners, and moisturizers can be demonstrated at the makeup station in the front of the store. “For instance, you can run a special on a skin care products and offer clients a demonstration on how to do home skin care, Wenstein says. “From there you can demonstrate makeup applications. There are new matte foundations that are thin yet have good coverage, available for all skin types. If you demonstrate upfront, people looking will also become interested.”

Nykiel generates interest in he salon’s skin care line by mixing informational brochures with the magazines in the waiting area. “That gets clients reading about the products we carry,” Nykiel says. “Then they start the selling process by approaching me with questions.”

Another successful selling technique is to follow a client’s progression a chart. “You can’t spend all your time with a client socializing,” Nykiel says. “Instead, you need to devote a portion of each session to reviewing what products were purchased during her last visit and how each of them affected her skin. From that discussion, you can introduce new products.”

A method that works well for: Berry is creating a personalized skin care system for each client using a pre-printed card that has a drawing of a blank face on the front and lines on the back. After determining which cleanser to use for a client’s skin type, for example, Berry writes it on the card so the client has a permanent reference if she ever decides to purchase the product. If Berry uses a teal pencil on a client’s eyes, for example, she sketches teal on the eyes on the card as well, then writes the pencil number and color on the back. “I don’t like to pressure sell,” she says. “I prefer to apply skin care and makeup products on clients, educate them about what I’m using, then recommend they go home and see how their skin feels. I’ll even give them some samples to play with. I’ve had several people come back with their copy of the card and say, ‘Order me everything on it,” Berry says. “You can even match nail polish and lipstick colors with it.”

Another great selling idea from Berry is to do a makeover to half the client’s face, then supervise and guide her as she tries to match what you did on the other half. “It’s a great way to teach clients how to use your products,” she says. “Once they’re confident they can duplicate your efforts, they return to buy again and again.”

Still another aspect of successful retailing is offering technicians a commission as an incentive to sell the products. “If you motivate nail technicians,” Wenstein says, “they can easily gear their conversation to include some discussion about the new skin care products you sell while they’re working on a client’s nails. Estheticians are also more motivated when retail sales add up to fatter paychecks.”

While everyone clearly benefits from retail sales, Laxman cautions salon owners not to send clients home with so many products that they can’t afford to come in for another appointment for the next 52 weeks. “We don’t want a salesperson hitting them over the head to make a weekly purchase,” he says. “We found a company that has a good educational program and a user-friendly line. Quality, good prices, simplicity---that’s the trick to successfully retailing skin care products.”

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